Whether good friends or African newspapers I’m being asked, “How could this be America?” I can’t answer all individually. Below is one reply.

Dear Brian,

Yesterday was not surprising and I am concerned with your personal perception (and that of so many of my other friends) that this “is not the America I know.”  It is precisely the America I know.

I was beaten in the streets of Madison WI as a college demonstrator, chased by police in Chicago, had my phones tapped and my identification ripped from me by U.S. government agents… and all that happened before I was jailed in Conakry, kidnapped in Kano and stared at the wheels of a Sherman tank that were taller than me in Goma.  My affinity for Africa I’m sure comes in part from a maturing personality that grasped soul matches in the turbulence of Africa. 

But why all this? is the question. I’ve spent my life wondering and there’s no simple answer, but there are broad understandings.

Your split from Brexit is a good start. I know that you supported it.  It’s the opposite of “all for one, and one for all.”  It’s when sports bifurcate between teams and super stars, when pay for the CEO grows exponentially beyond his floor worker, when walls to keep out different looking people turn into barricades dividing mothers and their babes into separate cages, when “tax refunds” double the wealth of a billionaire but leave a quarter of our children in poverty.  It’s all about division rather than unity.

Divide and conquer.  Divide off and prosper (Brexit).  Divide so far that compromise is antithetical to the positions that remain.

It’s hyper-individualism, which might have been useful when the vacant prairie was dusted by drought a hundred years ago, but today it’s absurd.  The world is in too much of a crisis for any part of it to pretend they can go it alone. It’s delusional – truly clinically psychopathic for any person today to think they can live without the help of strangers half way round the world.

Critical to this analysis is that any governing document that is two and half centuries old can’t possibly work except to inhibit solutions.

Most of us use phones and computers and dozens of other gizmos about which we don’t have a clue as to how they work.  All we know is that every few years they grow obsolete and we’ve got to get a new one. Recently we’ve even begun to give up our visible gizmos to trust “the cloud.” If we do this automatically in our daily lives, what is stopping us from doing it with the governance of our society?

America’s constitution is like my first laptop, a 1980’s Zenith box.  It’s neither equipped nor was it intended to last more than a few years.  The American constitution is an incredibly beautiful document, a foundational document that liberated the subject from its sovereign.  But it’s too old, now, and it’s remaining functional capability is to stop change.  Good minds have tried to work with it by piling on tomes of interpretation but therein is lost any governing core.  We need a governing core, and not one no more valuable than Homo erectus.

This is the morning after a single battle. Perhaps, now, we’ll begin to remember the others: Baltimore, Orlando, Portland, etc., etc. The skies are momentarily clear of smoke and screams.  The few people killed and busloads of injured last night are thousands less than those killed and tens of thousands less than those hospitalized yesterday by Covid. This is no anomaly. It was called for, predicted, wholly anticipated. This is nothing unique. Terrifying insurgencies happen all over America, all the time.

The crazy instigators including our President’s advisors and the weak, shameful politicians who enabled his wanton destruction have begun to divide themselves into enervated losers and delusional religious fanatics. But left standing is the megalomaniac himself and half the society he has brainwashed.  Every instant until he leaves has a potential for some yet unimagined historical explosion.  The story continues.